What do you think is high number of sexual partners?
Two? Eight? Not being able to count on your fingers and toes?
We talk a lot about the number of sex partners in the world of STDs, because sexually transmitted infections are a numbers game. The more partners you have, the more potential exposures. And the more potential exposures, the greater the risk of infection and all the sequelae that comes along as a parting gift. For example, we know that oral sex with 6 or more partners results in an 8-fold increases in the risk of oral cancer.
The National Health Statistics Reports (Published March 2011) gives us the answers about the number of sex partners for Americans ages 15-44, although why they stop at 44 I don’t know. I mean people do get divorced at 45 (ahem) and might possibly start dating again. I’m just saying.
The latest report uses data from the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth. The answers are collected through in-person interviews with over 13,000 men and women. The data are collected using audio computer-assisted self interviewing, so the person being surveyed enters answers into the computer without revealing their responses to an interviewer. This method of responding hopefully eliminates (or at least limits) the need to artificially inflate or decrease the number of sex partners based on concerns over reporting real numbers to a live interviewer. The survey has a pretty high response rate: 75%.
The median number of opposite sex partners for women is 3.2 and 5.1 for men.
88.7% of women have been sexually active with an opposite sex partner and 88.6% for men.
And for the highest number of partners in the study, 8.3% of women and 21.4% of men have had 15 or more partners. While the number of sex partners increased with age, by the age of 24 more than 14% of men and 7 % of women have had 15 or more sex partners.
One interesting demographic for both men and women, is the group most likely to have the highest number of partners (15 or more) are those who have previously been married and are not currently cohabiting, i.e. divorced and dating. While some of that may be a reflection of age, it is hard to know if other factors are also involved (the study simply addressed numbers, not the “why”).
Interesting stats for sure.
I’ll be posting throughout the next week with other interesting sexual demographics from this data set.
What do you think is a high number of sex partners?